I joined the SNP in 1969, that would be five minutes after I was born!  Sadly no, but my teacher was John Gair and I had quite a few other close influencers who did inspire me to become an activist.  At an early age I absorbed anything I could about everything I couldn’t access in school books about Scotland.  My Grandfather and Father were members of the local Burns Club, and their enthusiasm was infectious.  I joined the local pipe band and learned to play the pipes.  I wrote poetry and became fascinated by my own history through local historians in the Borders through songRead More →

It’s sometimes thought that Government is a piece of cake, you just take your manifesto and hey presto, it’s done, dusted and law. In practice, in the real world of course it’s far from that rosy picture. If you’re lucky enough to have a current or past Minister as your MSP, have a chat about the realities of office. Not the oft cited “Ministerial car” or the speeches but the hard graft of getting to grips with a subject and mastering that brief before you can even think about how you would make change work and find the money from within your own Departmental budget.Read More →

There have been many words, tributes and memories dedicated to the legend that was Winnie Ewing lately but I just wanted to add the impact that she made on me as an eight year old.  My dates may well be out but it must have been the early 80s and I was living in Orkney.  It was Brownie night and we were out a walk when a car went by and the whispers began and we all started waving excitedly.  It was probably an adult who had said who it was but what sticks in my mind was how we all knew who it wasRead More →

For old school Scottish Nationalists, Winnie Ewing was a constant presence. I was only 4 when she won the Hamilton by-election in 1967 but still I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of her.  Somehow – even in those days where news and opinion came principally in printed form – a very young boy living in a little village in Morayshire knew about this remarkable woman.  When I was in first year at secondary school I recall we were set a task by our English teacher: we had to write a short description of someone we admired, read it out to our classmates and thenRead More →

So Mhairi Black is stepping down from Westminster, well it’s no wonder.  We have read of women calling the Palace a cesspit, brutal, Boys Own caricatures, 19th century, jokes about accents and straight forward perverts on steroids, it doesn’t seem possible with corridors filled with journalists and spies, yet we see no reduction in complaints or improvement of conduct.  Even in front of cameras. So why did Mhairi upset so many on the opposite benches!  Well, trying to reduce her spirit by laughing at her accent. Or pretending they can’t understand her by gesticulating with their hands behind their ears as if they needed helpRead More →

This week saw the service of thanksgiving in Edinburgh for King Charles and Queen Camilla. The UK has already spent well over £100 million on the State Coronation. Now we are to have more pomp, ceremony, and dressing in ancient style clothing. He is to be offered the jewels of Scotland and a brand-new sword at extortionate cost. The jewels and the sword will be kept under lock and key in the castle where the tourists may have the privilege of ogling them. The Lord Lyon was asked on Tuesday if it was fair that so much pomp and ceremony should be taking place, at such great cost, whenRead More →

Over recent months the siren of voices who claim that they have the simple route to Independence has become a clamour to see who can shout the loudest, sadly not a debate about who has one which is actually workable and achievable. From withdrawing the SNP MPs from Westminster to declaring “UDI” we’re bombarded with sound, and not a little fury. The SNP should get their own policy house in order is followed by the SNP should open up to the rest of the YES movement. As is frequently the case, the calls are mutually exclusive. Everyone, it seems, has a plan to get usRead More →

Wick Is built around the mouth of Wick Bay, an inlet in the coastline in the far north of Scotland.  At the central point of this bay is the harbour and from there the town rises along both cliff tops leading out to neighbouring villages north and south of the town.  Originally Wick was a small village on the north side of the bay but the  creation of a new harbour on the south side in the 19th century led to the beginnings of Pulteneytown – with all its various spellings – and the two merged together and turned Wick into one of the largestRead More →

Our neighbours across the sea in the Nordic countries will be heading en masse to their summer cottages over the next couple of weeks. If you visit Helsinki round about midsummer you’ll find a city as quiet as Christmas. Shops are shut, cafes and restaurants are closed or empty, and in the streets almost no one is about. The vast majority of Helsinkilaiset are off to the country to celebrate the long summer days.  Like us, Nordic people endure long dark winters. Months of mirk, days which don’t stretch much further than 3.30, and enforced detention in the house. Their response to that is to make the most of theRead More →

When doctors differ patients die, much can be compared when those fighting for independence do the same.  We now have more keyboard warriors than activists in the field it seems and it’s become a feeding frenzy for the media and our detractors in Westminster.  We may be a broad church, but we only have one aim, so why is all this catastrophe happening, and what will galvanise the troops? The first consideration is if this is truly about Alba trying to destroy the SNP, as we are reading in the media, then it’s time to talk.  There are many in both camps reasonable and passionateRead More →